Intimate partner violence and sexual assault among women with serious mental illness: A review of prevalence and risk factors


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Summary: As compared with the general population, women with serious mental illness experience higher rates of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and are at a greater risk of future victimization, post-traumatic stress disorder, exacerbated symptoms of mental illness, and other negative health outcomes. Despite substantial research, the field lacks clear, consistent guidance for intervention development. To this end, this review aims to move the field beyond its focus on prevalence by providing a comprehensive and concise summary that compares and assesses the findings, quality, and scope of 10 systematic reviews (reviewing 168 studies) pertaining to prevalence and risk factors of intimate partner violence and/or sexual assault among women with serious mental illness. Findings: The systematic reviews in this study indicate wide variation exists in the prevalence rates of intimate partner violence among women with serious mental illness. Differences are attributable to inconsistent definitions of key concepts across studies, differences in inclusion and exclusion criteria, type of disability, and type of violent victimization. Fewer than half of the studies focus on risk factors for violent victimization among women with serious mental illness, which contributes to the lack of viable interventions for this population. Application: The implications discussed in this study address best practices for screening and assessment, opportunities for intervention modification, standardization of definitions of core concepts, and the importance of examining the service challenges from the perspective of clients and service providers. The study offers an organizing framework to advance the field’s focus on risk and protective factors toward developing effective interventions and treatment strategies.

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